Now that various places are re-opening after being closed to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus, it’s time to treat your favorite locations like high school crushes whom you haven’t seen in years. Times have changed and the virus is still circulating, so don’t go running into their open arms just yet.
Instead be wary, be careful, and look for any indications that the risk of Covid-19 coronavirus transmission may be higher than you would want. Indoor, enclosed locations tend to be riskier than outdoor ones since the wind is not around to blow away the virus. However, not all indoor locations are the same. Stay away if you see any of the following 10 warning signs:
1. The layout is too cramped to stay at least six feet apart.
If your high school crush were to say, “hey, come spend the night with me and 50 other people,” you may be a bit crushed because that may not offer much alone time. Similarly, don’t get into a situation where it will be difficult to stay at least six feet apart from everyone else. As I mentioned before for Forbes, that’s about one Denzel Washington apart, assuming that Washington is about six feet tall. Beware of places that have narrow walkways, numerous obstacles, an excessive number of ceramic gnomes, or little maneuvering room in general. If a place does not offer enough room for you to safely do the Electric Slide or the floss (the dance and not what you do to your teeth), consider staying away.
2. Poor ventilation and air circulation.
Basically, don’t go to a place where a fart could linger, not that a fart can necessarily transmit the Covid-19 coronavirus, as I have covered before for Forbes. It’s just a sign that the room is not getting enough ventilation and air circulation, which could allow virus-carrying respiratory droplet nuclei to remain floating in the air. This doesn’t mean that you should fart with impunity to check the ventilation. Rather, look for open windows, open doors, air vents, running air conditioners, or any sign that the air is moving.
3. Low air space-to-person ratios.
Don’t just look for space between people but also look for space above people. Low ceilings may leave little room for anything in the air to dissipate. This isn’t the time to go to that crawlspace party that you’ve always been wanting to attend.
4. People are talking a lot, shouting, singing, panting, or coughing.
In general, going into a room where everyone is panting is a bad idea. If they are pointing at you while panting, turn around and run. As I covered recently for Forbes, even just talking can spray droplets into the air that may hang there for an average of eight minutes, potentially even tens of minutes. Imagine then how many droplets a lot of talking or singing could produce. In other words, if a whole choir begins singing Britney Spears’, “One More Time,” it’s better to leave, even if your loneliness is killing you.
5. No ready access to hand washing and disinfection.
You will touch your face. It’s inevitable. It will happen. Your face and hands are like a couple that keeps getting back together again. Therefore, make sure that there is ready access to soap, water, hand sanitizer, or disinfectant wipes.
6. High touch objects that you have to touch.
Be wary of locations that require you to touch something that many other people have to touch like a door knob, a pen, a keyboard, a menu, a stripper poll, or Chris Hemsworth’s biceps. If there is something that you must touch, then check whether it’s being actively and frequently cleaned and disinfected. This brings us to the next warning sign.
7. No obvious cleaning and disinfecting are occurring.
A place shouldn’t wait until closing time or off hours to be cleaning. That’s like waiting until the end of the day to use toilet paper when you really should be using it during each number two visit to the toilet. Similarly, cleaning and disinfecting should be occurring frequently throughout the day. Look for cleaning supplies and people actually using them appropriately. Don’t be afraid of asking about the place’s cleaning policies and regimens. It’s a bad sign if they get irritated by such questions. That can be akin to someone getting annoyed if you ask him or her about protection before having sex or a bib before eating lobsters.
8. People are lingering for a long time and there’s no regulation of people traffic.
The location shouldn’t look like “The Storming of the Bastille.” There should be someone regulating how many people can be inside an indoor location at a time. The more people entering a location and the longer they stay, the greater the risk. Re-opening shouldn’t mean returning to what you were doing before the pandemic as this tweet point out:
9. People are not following rules or taking precautions.
Pay attention to how many people are actually taking precautions to not infect other people. This can include wearing masks, keeping at least one Denzel away from others, and frequently cleaning their hands. Both the visitors and those working at the location should be taking appropriate precautions. Proper infection control training and procedures should be in place. Of course, maintain good infection control and service is not always that easy:
This isn’t the time to be attracted to bad boys or bad girls, especially badly contagious ones.
10. There’s any sign that the employer or employees believe that the Covid-19 coronavirus is not that serious or a hoax.
This could then be a sign that they aren’t really taking proper precautions behind the scenes when you are not looking.
Just because a place is now open again doesn’t mean that it is safe to visit. You are not back in pre-pandemic times, and your needs have now changed. What may have been charming and cute before is not necessarily the same now.